Egypt - France

French reporters detained and interrogated in Cairo

Reuters/Kyodo

Three French journalists covering anti-government protests in Egypt were detained by armed men, blindfolded and subjected to hours of interrogation before being released in the middle of the night, their TV station said on Friday. RFI's correspondent in Cairo reports that reporters have been targets of physical attack and harassment.

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Three reporters from France's biggest private broadcaster TF1 were stopped as they were driving through Cairo on Thursday morning, according to station news editor Catherine Nayl.

RFI's Michel Arsenault in Cairo

One of the journalists detained, Pierre Grange, describes being driven to an unkown location by men wearing civilian clothes and armed with long knives and tear gas.

"They clearly had an order to stop journalists," he told the AFP news agency.

Grange says he and his colleagues were then taken to a military camp where they endured "15 hours of psychological pressure". Blindfolded, prevented from drinking, eating, going to the toilet or speaking to each other, they were repeatedly asked whether they were foreign spies, he says.

RFI's correspondent in Cairo, Michel Arseneault, says he's seen dozens of journalists

Dossier: Revolution in Egypt

deliberately targeted in the past week.

"Many were beaten with sticks, with the blunt sides of machetes, at least one was stabbed … Others were harassed, molested. There was a clear determination to get journalists off the streets," he says.

Most of the harassment is directed at foreign correspondents, Arseneault reports, but Egyptian journalists have also been beaten up.

While it's difficult to establish who's behind the violence, security forces as well as civilians are involved, our correspondent says.

French international news channel France 24 said on Thursday that three of its journalists in Cairo had been arrested by "military intelligence services". The BBC, Al Jazeera, ABC News and Al Arabiya have also complained of harassment.

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